Published: 3rd March 2016
We were invited to give a sneak preview of our exciting ‘Breaking the Rules’ project at the launch of this year’s Newbury Spring Festival this week: the launch took place in the Royal Box at Newbury Racecourse (fitting for music written by a Prince and heard by Dukes and ladies!), and was a wonderful opportunity to also launch our Breaking the Rules tour, which will begin at the Festival on May 19th, and run until November 2016.
Here’s The Marian Consort post-performance, along with Clare Norburn, the writer of Breaking the Rules, and representatives of Newbury Spring Festival (excellent reception cake and coffee out of shot!)
Published: 27th February 2016
We were delighted to be the featured artists on this Sunday’s ‘Early Music Late’ on BBC Radio 3: our concert of music by William Byrd and his contemporaries, recorded at last June’s Rheinvokal Festival, was broadcast and is now available on Iplayer.
If you’d like to listen again, just click on the link below!
Published: 9th January 2016
Looking back to the end of 2015, we undertook our first major UK tour, bringing our ‘Christmas with the Shepherds’ programme to audiences in Perthshire, Edinburgh, York, Oxford, Canterbury, West Somerset and London over the course of just under two weeks in December. Despite the best efforts of the weather and ensuing road and rail difficulties (not to mention a plastic bag on an overhead line!), we managed to make it to all of our intended destinations, and were met with wonderfully warm responses from friendly and welcoming audiences (some a little too warm, as an audience member fainted during one performance due to the heat of having so many people packed into the church!).
The Sunday Times’s Paul Driver attended our final concert of the tour, our debut at the Spitalfields Winter Festival in St Leonard’s Shoreditch, and had the following to say:
‘McCleery, a countertenor and academic as well as conductor, introduced the items with a lucidity combining boyish geniality with quite startling erudition … I felt a door was being opened on this historical period, and it was the very door of St Leonard’s. The singers were marvellous. Highlights were the opening Marian antiphon by Victoria, and his six-part Quem vidistis, pastores?, its imitative structure emerging with the most sublime clarity.’
Published: 10th November 2015
The Marian Consort featured as part of BBC Radio 3’s line-up for the 2015 Free Thinking: Festival of Ideas in Gateshead this weekend, performing in the wonderful acoustic of St Mary’s Heritage Centre. The concert we gave was recorded for the Early Music Show and took as its theme ‘Bending the Rules’, featuring works by Carlo Gesualdo, Jacob Handl, Giaches de Wert, Luzzasco Luzzaschi and William Byrd, with Rory discussing the music with presenter Lucie Skeaping.
The concert is now available on BBC Iplayer Radio and can be listened to by clicking here.
If you’d like to hear more Gesualdo, The Marian Consort will be performing his music throughout the UK in 2016: for more information, please visit our Concerts page.
Published: 10th November 2015
We’re delighted that our concert from the 2015 Rheinvokal Festival back in June, which was broadcast on SWR2 in Germany on November 1st, is now available to listen to online by clicking here. We performed our ‘Singing in Secret’ programme, featuring music by William Byrd and his contemporaries, in the amazing St. Severus church in Boppard. Appropriately, the November 1st broadcast coincided with the Feast of All Saints, as our programme contained Byrd’s magnificent Propers for All Saints from Gradualia, including the well-known Justorum Animae.
We’re very pleased to be returning to Germany in Autumn 2016 to perform ‘Singing in Secret’, along with Thomas Tallis’ monumental 40-part motet Spem in Alium: more information about this will be available in the new year!
Published: 20th October 2015
Although the weather didn’t look terribly promising on the morning of our final Swiss concert, we still ventured out into Lucerne for a walk and a spot of lunch, before heading to the Marianischer Saal to rehearse for our early evening concert. The hall, at the top of an old Jesuit meeting house, is quite spectacular, as were the views from our dressing room (see right!). Our concert was the first of the 20th Anniversary chamber music series, so we were treated to a drinks reception, at which we were able to meet and chat to many of our audience. They were a wonderfully friendly and enthusiastic group, and it was a lovely way to round off our Swiss debut!
Published: 20th October 2015
After an invigorating cycle round Kartause Ittingen and a hearty organic breakfast (which featured some delicious local strawberry juice!) we set off for Einsiedeln and our fourth concert of the tour. The views from the train window on our way up to the town were quite spectacular, and our concert venue, the Grosser Saal of the Kloster Einsiedeln, which we were told was similarly arresting, did not disappoint! The concert finished with a mad dash back down the hill to the station to catch our train to Lucerne (which we made with whole seconds to spare!) and on arrival we were treated to a delicious dinner at the home of Gerhard Pawlica, organiser of the chamber music series at the Marianischer Saal, before heading to our hotel for some well-earned sleep!
Published: 19th October 2015
After a leisurely breakfast and a trip to the chocolate shop in the square, we set off from Zofingen for Ittingen – this journey involved four changes, with two trains, a bus and eventually a minibus coming to collect us from a deserted Swiss roadside! The travel was worth it, though: Kartause Ittingen is an incredibly beautiful and peaceful place, brimming with culture and fantastic organic food, all grown or reared on site. After rehearsal we were treated to dinner in the Kartause restaurant by Ursula Jones, our tour organiser, sponsor and irrepressible force of nature! (pictured right, with Guy and Ed) We then performed to a wonderfully receptive audience, before celebrating Emma’s birthday with a cake (preceded by some ridiculous distraction techniques to keep her occupied while the candles were lit!) in the green room and some well-deserved local beer: brewed on site, of course!
Published: 16th October 2015
This morning we were taken to the Stiftsbibliothek St Gallen, where a private viewing of the Tchudi Liederbuch had been arranged. It was amazing to see the music we are performing in Tschudi’s own beautifully neat hand, with lots of annotations in the margins of almost every piece! No photos were allowed in the viewing room, or sadly in the amazing eighteenth-century Rococo library hall, but we did get a snap of the enormous over-shoe slippers that are mandatory footwear when visiting, to preserve the painstakingly-restored wooden floors!
Then on to Zofingen, for our concert in a converted cinema – the Alass has a fantastically intimate, relaxed atmosphere, very different to yesterday’s venue (but both equally wonderful!), which allowed us to bring out the more chamber-music-like aspects of our programme, and it was great to chat with the audience at the reception afterwards, with some Swiss wine, sausage and cheese in hand!
"The Marian Consort’s performances deliver full value in terms of expressive range and sophistication. Pitch-perfect tuning and immaculately clean ensemble … add further to the attractions of this eminently listenable recital."
"You are left in no doubt of the agony of the crucifixion in the vocal and horn climax of the opening chorus of Stabat Mater ... intense and riveting."
"There’s earnest beauty in it and the instrumental playing on this recording is spot on – the Berkeley Ensemble under David Wordsworth clinches the balance of chaste, plaintive and urgent."
"The Marian Consort has built an enviable reputation for coolly poised and precisely balanced performances and indeed there are times here when the listener can only sit back and admire, seduced by the sheer beauty of sound."
"Singing one person to a part, the Marian Consort give sublimely refined, spacious and impeccably tuned performances."
"The Marian Consort’s background in early music pays dividends in their superb precision of pitch, impeccable rhythmic placing and beautiful diction … the lush harmonies that open [Judica me] are sumptuously delivered and beautifully recorded."
"Little is known about the 16th-century composer, except that his beautifully smooth polyphony was much admired ... As revealed with pellucid clarity by Rory McCleery’s young Marian Consort on this first recording devoted exclusively to Maillard, he was a subtly expressive composer."
"With two women in the group, they make no pretence at emulating what might have happened in the 16th century; but that lets them sing out with more freedom. So this is no-nonsense musicianship, but for all that thoroughly musical ... The unfussy performance helps the music enormously."
"The motets are more adventurous, declamatory and cleverly nuanced, with a recognisable house style. The Marian Consort produces a very pleasing sound."
"The most striking feature of this entertainingly varied collection is the consistently fresh, fruit-ripe tonal quality of the Marian Consort's singing … poised and flexible, the text responded to with notable insight and maturity."